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As ‘pause’ of J&J vaccine is lifted, demand for single-dose shot remains high in Hawaii

Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 10:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are more than 20,000 unused doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Hawaii, and health officials hope to start administering them again next week.

On Friday, an 11-day national “pause” on the vaccine was lifted after health experts with the CDC and FDA agreed the benefits of the single-dose shot outweigh the risks.

“We have never lost confidence in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” said Department of Health spokesman Brooks Baehr.

DOH says it’s now waiting for the federal government to issue an updated screening form that will be presented to patients prior to getting the vaccine. That’s expected to happen Tuesday, Baehr said.

The shot will carry a new label that warns women ages 18 to 50 about a rare risk that the vaccine could cause blood clots.

Despite that, Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO Hilton Raethel says demand remains high. “We have a lot of people who are still asking for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” he said.

“It’s great for people who may be homebound, people in rural communities.”

On Friday, manywere excited to learn the single-dose shot will again be an option. “We want to get back to normal and I think that’s the ticket,” said resident Kent Terada.

But some believe the new guidance could trigger reluctance towards the immunization.

“I definitely think people will be hesitant,” said resident Dawn Dearth.

The state Department of Health wants you to look at it like this: You’re at much higher risk if you don’t get vaccinated, than if you do get vaccinated.

And the agency reminding people Johnson & Johnson isn’t your only choice.

“We do have lots of Pfizer and Moderna. And we have lots of slots available,” Baehr said. “The time is now, Hawaii, to go ahead and make your appointment.”

Over the past two weeks, he says, the state’s seen more than 200 cases involving variant strains of the virus. Getting vaccinated breaks the chain of transmission, making it harder for COVID to mutate.

“Go to HawaiiCOVID19.com and do some vaccine shopping,” Baehr said. “You’re going to find something that’s close and convenient where you can get vaccinated really soon.”

Raethel says right now there’s no word on when Hawaii could receive it’s next shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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